The real power is in congress. Whomever is elected president will try and push his agenda. However the president needs votes in congress to achieve his agenda. This explains why we don't have pro-choice during one president's term and abortion is illegal during another president's term. Congress writes bills and passes them. The president is the figure head or official face of the country internationally. In fact he has more clout on the world stage than he does domestically.
As for cutting spending we need to give the president power to do a lie item veto. Cutting spending/programs must take place BEFORE cutting taxes. Our biggest expenses are Social Security, Medicare, Welfare programs, and Defense. No candidate is going to get elected announcing plans to cut programs that help the elderly, poor, unhealthy, and veterans. Promising tax cuts is popular!
If you take in LESS revenues/taxes but keep the same programs in place then you blow up the deficit. This is what happened with George W. Bush. He came into office when the country had a (surplus). He proceeded to give us $300 refund checks each and then he (cut taxes). However the (same governement programs remained in place) and we got into (two wars) to boot!
To be honest with you most people are not laying awake at night worrying about the deficit. They care about having a good job, a home, food, retirement funds, and disposable money for vacations and toys. No one is thinking about how much money we owe China. Stock market crashes and mortgage defaults are another issue.